As attacks continue from Washington, ALIGN continues the fight in New York City
Over the past weeks we’ve seen continued attacks from the federal level that have a ripple effect throughout our communities and for our workers. The Supreme Court upheld the travel ban, then shortly after made its ruling on Janus v. AFSCME which undermines the ability of working people to stick together in strong unions. At the border, we have seen the ruthless separation of immigrant children from their families – many of whom have arrived here on our doorstep in New York City. And with Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court we risk the accelerated corporate takeover of our justice system, and the rolling back of years of struggle for women’s rights.
In response, we must continue uniting across our communities and building a movement at the local and national level. Our work here in New York to transform our local infrastructure, strengthen protections for our black, brown, immigrant and low-wage workers and build resilience to climate change is all the more urgent.
“Our Jobs, Our Future” calls for inclusive job-creation in NYC tech
As the technology industry expands its footprint in New York City we launched a new campaign, “Our Jobs, Our Future”. In a New York Times article that profiles the campaign – “100,000 New Jobs for New York – Will Enough Go to Poorer Workers?” – our ED Maritza Silva-Farrell said: “We see certain industries growing in the city without a plan for communities who have been disenfranchised to have access to not only the jobs, but the training so that they can enter the pipeline for those jobs.”
The dominant narrative is that New York City’s economy is booming. But in neighborhoods like Brownsville in Brooklyn and University Heights in The Bronx, the reality is very different, with unemployment rates of more than 10% and residents struggling to support themselves and their families. Meanwhile, the Mayor’s flagship jobs program, New York Works, gives priority to technology and other STEM sectors, which are predominantly young, white, male and highly educated. Our Jobs, Our Future is campaigning for real employment pipelines for the communities who need them the most. We are also demanding corporate accountability and transparency, so we know exactly how many jobs are being created, in what industries, and for whom. The coalition launched with a rally on the steps of City Hall, and shared the findings from the report “Combating the Gentrification of Jobs in New York City.”
New Yorkers build a vision of the transit system WE want to see!
On June 20, ALIGN led the New York launch of Partnership For Working Families national “We Make This City” campaign, a long-term effort to transform our cities’ public infrastructure from the bottom up. As Maritza said in In These Times, this is about “how we as people who live in the city can define what kinds of transportation, housing, infrastructure overall we want in our city.”
New Yorkers continue to bear the cost in their daily lives of our crumbling transit infrastructure, and the failure of public officials in generating the sustainable source of funding to improve it. We rallied partners and members of the public in Union Square to share their vision for public transit: accessibility for people with disabilities, electric buses, less crowded trains, investment in services in transit deserts, and more. In contrast to the vision of a people’s public transit system, we introduced a power-map illustrating the real-estate interests that influence and benefit from expensive MTA upgrades. We will continue to build with allies to fight for equity, investment, and environmental transformation across our public transit system.
Solar-powered, union-powered energy on our public schools
Two years of advocacy comes to fruition on the rooftop of Junior High School SA Halsey in Rego Park, Queens, where members of the Climate Works for All Coalition visited IBEW Local 3 members working to install solar panels. This, and 87 other sites, are the culmination of ALIGN’s and its partners’ advocacy with the Mayor’s Office and City Council to ensure that solar installed on public buildings, like schools, prioritize the needs of workers and low-income communities. Initial City plans would have contracted the work out to non-union installer, leasing the roofs and treating the installations like any other public project. Climate Works for All successfully made the case in hearings and meetings with elected officials and city agencies, that these programs were for the public benefit, and therefore should be sited in low-income and energy-burdened neighborhoods and should utilize project labor agreements, ensuring that workers were paid fair wages and safe working conditions.
With a contract between the City and a now-defunct, low-road contractor cancelled, work began in earnest under a project labor agreement between the City and Unity Electric, a union electrical contractor signatory to IBEW local 3. These 88 sites and future installations for public solar are being sited in priority areas identified by Climate Works for All and the City in flood zones, energy-burdened neighborhoods, heat vulnerable communities and other environmental justice neighborhoods. In this video, IBEW Local 3 Business Representative Benjamin Aranja and Unity Electric’s Dave DeMaio share there excitement about these projects.
Making the new sexual harassment laws real for all New Yorkers
In the wake of #MeToo, the City Council introduced the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, which means that every employee in New York City – whatever the size of their workplace and whether they are in public or private sector – is covered by the sexual harassment provisions of the city’s human rights law. What’s critical now is that workers throughout the city – whatever language they speak, whatever industry they work in – are informed about the law and how to register complaints. Our ED Maritza Silva-Farrell joined Council Member Helen Rosenthal and Allegra L. Fisher of the Gender Equality Law Center on “Represent NYC” to discuss this and more. We are advocating to empower women to speak out against sexual harassment and to transform the culture in our workplaces.
Momentum gathers for sweeping transformation of our private waste system
As NY1 anchor Errol Louis wrote in New York Daily News, it’s time to “Clean up the rotten commercial waste industry.” Following years of campaigning by Transform Don’t Trash, momentum is building to do just that, with the city planning on introducing its plan for a waste zoning system later this Summer. We continue to fight for the strongest possible system, with one hauler operating in each zone. If New York gets this right it will bring dramatic improvements in conditions for the majority black and latino workers, reductions in truck traffick and emissions, improved street safety and greater recycling. This week, Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for greater accountability and a strong zoning system, saying that it’s “been like the Wild West for far too long.”
Save the date for the Movement Builders Awards!
The ALIGN Movement Builders Awards will be on October 11. Join us as we celebrate outstanding leaders at the forefront of racial, gender, and economic justice as innovators, protectors, and trailblazers.